Is it teething time for your little one?


Over 4,000 babies are born premature in Ireland each year, and from the very second their little one arrives into the world, thousands of families across the country have to watch them fight the biggest fight of their life.


Thankfully, though, babies ARE little fighters and for many parents they get to bring their premmie home. 


However, nothing can ever fully prepare a family for the uphill journey that each premature baby has to face, especially when there were no complications or trouble in the weeks preceding their birth - as happened Clare-native Suzanne Hayes.


"It was just a fluke that they discovered it when they did," Suzanne told MummyPages when recalling the day doctors realised something was wrong. 


"If they didn't notice it Adam would have been stillborn. 


"I was 26, healthy, everything should have been fine."


Back in 2007, Suzanne gave birth to Adam at just 28 weeks. A normal, uncomplicated pregnancy, things changed when the now mum-of-two went for an appointment in University Hospital Galway to check for cleft palate. 


It was here that doctors realised Adam had stopped growing at 25 weeks due to a block in the placenta.



Doctors gave her two steroid injections - one on the Tuesday and another on the Wednesday - and were looking for 10 movements in 30 minutes. But they didn't get any.


Suzanne was rushed for an emergency Caesarean and in her state of shock started to vomit. She was alone, frightened and the spinal block didn't work. 


The procedure was so urgent that doctors could not wait for the anaesthetic to take effect and began operating. Baby Adam was born weighing just 740 grams. 


But the battle didn't end there.


It was two days before Suzanne got to see her baby boy - she wasn't able to walk as a result of the spinal block and there was no one to wheel her up - and she was required to pump every three hours.


For the majority of the time, Suzanne had to look at a photo of her son in order to generate milk.



Suzanne was allowed home after five days, but living 45 minutes away from the hospital, the new mum had to rely on her fiancé and parents to drop her in to see Adam.  


"I was terrified the hospital would ring me and tell me to hurry in," she explained. 


"He suffered from a collapsed lung, two brain bleeds, several infections and Bradycardia episodes. Adam also needed contestant supervision as he had trouble breathing on his own and needed to be resuscitated a number of times." 


Thankfully, after 77 days in hospital, her eldest son was allowed home. However, just two weeks after he was discharged he was brought back in for a hernia treatment weighing just 4lbs. He also suffered chest infections and pneumonia within his first year.


Suzanne was found to have an Intrauterine Growth Restriction due to a clotting disorder and required blood thinners.


Adam is now nine years old; as a younger child he required steroids during the winter, but now relies only on an inhaler.


“We were told when he was a few months old that he would probably live but never play sport.


"He proved everyone wrong, he plays soccer, rugby and is a fantastic hurler”.



Nine years ago, Suzanne said there was no support for anyone in her situation; she now recommends that parents learn what to expect from a premature birth.


"I was totally on my own - there were no discussion boards like there are now and the support wasn't great. The only information I got on premature babies was from a leaflet in the hospital." 


Explaining that it is critical to get as much information as possible to prepare for any complications along the way, Suzanne wants mums to know that they are not alone; that they are not the first person to go through it. 


"Being told to take one day at a time does drive you mad, but it is true. The only way to get through it is to take one day at a time."


The Neonatal Health Alliance have launched an information leaflet designed to support families of premature babies. The leaflet details care instructions for parents of premature babies being treated in neonatal intensive care units – something new parents know very little about.



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